In MHO this is one of many stories that reflect on the weak side of human endeavors, nobody should be surprised that this tale will continue to repeat itself, as long as the product/system is based on aggressive irrational schedules, and the innate weakness in every individual overwhelmed with power, that fails to balance his wishes with a doze of reality checks.
The product owners must balance between time to market, performance, cost, reliability and most important, safety of the product in its operating environment. But often, marketing ends up in the driving seat, has its way and the results are well enunciated by stories like these.
It is most important for engineers to speak up. No matter how smart we get with all the software tools and computing devices, there is no substitute to sheer commonsense!
@Eric, I concur with you 100%, simulate the most you can in any design! I am a firm believer in that and do all the time.
Dr. MP Divakar
Another aspect of the ego of bosses is that it affects many people's career. Such bosses' only aim is to gain publicity with minimum understanding of the issues and details (that also will be blamed on the staff anyway!). Whe it works, it is him, and when it fails, it is the staff.
A similar event occurred in 1545, when the English ship of the line Mary Rose capsized because she was top-heavy. She was maneuvering during a sea battle, rolled too far, her gun ports took on water, and she sank with over 90% casualties.
A more directly relevant example of requirements creep was the Messerschmitt ME-262 jet fighter. This plane could have been manufactured in large numbers in about 1943, but Hitler kept demanding more and more diverse functionality -- light bomber capability, dive-bombing, etc. Happily for the free world, this airplane was not ready for combat until early 1945, too late to have any effect on the outcome of World War II.
I had a boss that used to say "That's why we pay you the big bucks!" when the impossible needed to be designed in no time with limited resources. It seems that everyone has experienced this type of program car wreck. What are some of your past stories? We had a marketing group that promised a new processor that was 1/3 the size, had added support for double precision floating point math, and at a target price of 1/10th! Needless to say we informed the powers that be: You can have speed, power, size PICK TWO!...
Such scenario is applicable to nine out of ten products which are prepared for launch in any company today. This is because the imagination of those who want to market the product races ahead much faster than those responsible to implement the ideas. And most of times we already have a competition which has the similar product already in the market. In the haste to beat the competition we forget that we have to first catch up with the competition. The result is a big fiasco as the product delivers on ideas but fails on perfromance or the product is well built and robust and the market trend has already moved away from the product.